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A corporate CEO relies on their CTO to administer the technical intricacies of their business and hone those intricacies to the objective at hand. A superstar CTO does all this and more. They bring the necessary experience, knowledge, balance and business acumen to accurately represent the IT/engineering function at the executive roundtable.

Today’s CTO is much more than just a coder, locked away in a basement think tank. They need a high level of diversified technical prowess, along with optimal leadership, interpersonal and project management capabilities.

So where can you find this world-class CTO – and which specific traits are you looking for as you source and interview candidates? The “best-of-the-best” have these qualities in common:

They align their priorities with company strategy.

Leading CTOs work strategically, not only on current IT initiatives but in the best interests of the organization as a whole.

  • They are competent strategists who make decisions based on what’s best for the company. Sometimes organizational objectives will overlap with IT department objectives – and sometimes not. They have the ability to differentiate and execute only what’s pertinent.
  • They take responsibility for the successes and failures of their department and the business. Their technical vision parallels overall business planning. Strong strategic development experience coupled with excellent communication skills are essential. You need someone well qualified in dialogue between developers, customers and team members.

They contribute to the innovation discussion.

Ongoing conversation between various department leaders, including your CTO, is key to your business integration success.

  • Your CTO must clearly communicate from an IT standpoint while hearing and understanding other points of view. This responsible communication results in ongoing innovation and enhances the reach and usability of your company technology.
  • They’ve been labeled “innovators with geek cred.” This means they can creatively solve problems and imagine new solutions, even if someone else hasn’t done it before.

They are agile as they deliver results.

A-level CTOs lead the IT function in creative, efficient response to change, while keeping business goals in sight at all times.

  • They ensure that your organization can rapidly, reliably and repeatedly deliver a quality product to the market. They are tenacious, not stopping till the right solution is found.
  • They regularly relay project status to all key stakeholders. These audiences range from IT staffers to executive team members and external targets as appropriate. They fully grasp the negative impact of unexpected or unnecessary lag time on customer satisfaction.

They are leaders in software development and scalability.

In addition to leading the acquisition, integration and construction of software that differentiates your business from the competition, your CTO must ensure that all systems can scale to the demands of growth. They stay focused on this goal, never losing sight of the basics. In doing so, their role is integral to the total customer experience.

  • They’re always looking for a better way – and they inspire their developers to do the same. They think incessantly about product before code and envision the value that their product will create.

They are accountable and they run a tight ship.

Your CTO must agree with your CEO on all key business metrics. Despite high demands, they are called upon to run an increasingly tight and efficient IT operation.

  • They shrewdly command management of the business within the business. This contributes to better cash flow and higher EBITDA margins for the organization.
  • They keep costs low and output and morale high. This includes regularly communicating company strategy and leading their team in implementing relevant goals in a timely fashion.

Partner with the BrainWorks team of executive search consultants to develop a customized sourcing strategy as you meet your ongoing CTO and senior management needs. Contact us today to learn more about the BrainWorks difference when it comes to executive and other business-critical sourcing and retention strategies.


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